April 18th, 2005

JOY

Beating out 'Barfuss' as the best last name ever:

Mickey and I went to the Outer Banks for a wedding this weekend. Apparently the weather in DC was lovely, as everyone has been complimenting me on choosing such a nice weekend to head to the beach. While the daytime highs were in the mid 50's at the Outer Banks, however, the 35mph winds resulted in a WIND CHILL of about 45. We had a fantastic time notwithstanding.

Mick works with the bride, so we were at the co-worker table, with another co-worker and her husband, and the bride's bosses (husband and wife) and their daugther and son. Out having a smoke with the bosses' son, I asked him what he does for a living and he said he works for a catering company owned and operated mostly by gays. Better still, he said his boss's name is Bobby Buttsavage. I laughed and suggested he was kidding, but he said it's on his paychecks and everything. "the best thing is when people come by and ask if Buttsavage still works there. Yep. Indeed he does."
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When I'm Bad I'm Better

Surgery

At 7:30 tomorrow morning I go in for surgery. My doctor found a growth on my thyroid gland that is about 5cm in diameter and has its own little growth on it (thus giving it the appearance of a fried egg during the ultrasound). A biopsy and a radio-iodine test have yielded no real diagnosable results so I will have to have it removed. The unfortunate part is that one cannot simply remove a growth on the thyroid, but the surrounding part of the gland. Should the pathologist tomorrow determine that this growth is cancerous, they will remove the entire thyroid; if it is benign, I will only lose half of it.

I have spoken to many of you about this and have either experienced the appropriate phases of acceptance, or am in a great big pile of denial today. I'm mostly focused on little things like writing out instructions for my mom on how to use the DVD player during her visit.

I like to hope that if I don't dwell on or ever talk about my weight other people will somehow magically forget about it and it won't be an issue. I generally don't like to talk about this, and to use the term "elephant in the room" is a little too literal in this case. I went to the doctor about a year ago to get a physical in the hopes, if you will, that my rapid and excessive weight gain was a result of a tangible physical problem. I had WebMD'd everything I could think of and I showed every symptom of having an underactive thyroid gland. I explained to my doctor that while I had seen incredible success two years before losing weight for my brother's wedding, I was not able to regain the motivation to restrict my intake as strictly as I had when I lost. I wasn't eating horribly - I had learned a thing or two from that time, but I wasn't eating so badly as to be putting on weight so fast. Maybe I was kidding myself and not realizing just how badly I was doing and I was hoping for a physical problem when in reality I just was a slob who ate too much. I work out regularly, drink about a gallon of water a day, don't snack much, I probably do eat too much when I do sit down for a meal, but it doesn't seem like it should be this bad.

My doctor said my thyroid was fine, and I was in otherwise stellar health, with excellent blood pressure and low cholesterol. He suggested I eat ice chips so I wouldn't snack so much, and to try taking a walk a few times a week. Realizing I was getting nowhere with this guy and gaining still, I enrolled in this weight management program at GW University. A woman at my job started it and was seeing great results.

To make a story that's already too long shorter, I didn't get the results. I still couldn't motivate myself. But the thing that did come out of it was the thyroid growth diagnosis - she felt the bump on my neck that I always thought was my neck muscle. Shit of it is, my thyroid levels in my blood are still considered "normal" so they won't put me on medication, and even after the surgery, they want to "try and see" if I can cope without it.

I am embarrassed to say that it's this part that has me more worried than the possibility of having cancer. All my doctors say if I had to choose a cancer, this would be the one to pick, since it has such a high success rate and has no real method of spreading to other organs. But I just know I don't have cancer. And furthermore, if it was such a big fear, why would my doctors all have been so lackadasical about when I go in for surgery - they seemed to not care when it got done, and have presented no real urgency.

What I'm terrified of is that after having essentially hoped for a tyroid problem, I found one, and now I'm not going to have a thyroid gland and it's going to be even harder for me to lose weight. Or that I got this problem, but it still isn't the magic bullet kind of cureable problem I wanted. Am I just trying to find some copout excuse that I can blame what is really my own damn fault for? My doctors keep trying to tell me that the thyroid's role in metabolism has been mythically exaggerated, and that it doesn't really do much. Then why are so many people on medication then? I don't want to try and see whether or not I get fatter without it.

I am scared of the surgery. I've never had surgery before and never been fully anesthetized. All the doctors and nurses all seem to think this is so mundane and they say I'll probably be up and walking around (with a sore throat) in a day or so, so I am looking forward to all the zen time I can spend with Paper Mario while I'm off from work. I'm afraid that I'm going to have this giant Frankenstein scar on my neck, but luckily flowery little scarves are in this spring.

So yeah, that's me. Wish me luck.
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